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Ikehu Natural Offers Airline Miles for Green Habits

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By Brianna Panzica
Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Nowadays, we pay more for most things. Gasoline prices may not be as high as they were during the height of the recession, but they bordered on $4 this summer, reaching $5 in parts of California.

Food prices are inflating after the drought this summer. Your Thanksgiving turkey will cost almost twice as much as it did in 2005.

Even energy bills have gone up, and this has more to do with lifestyle than the economy. Compared to twenty years ago, the number of things we plug in – and leave plugged in – has grown.

Hair dryers and hair straighteners, computers and phone chargers, e-readers, iPods, laptops, and game systems – nearly everything we use has gone electronic, and it all requires an electricity connection.

Now imagine if you could use that technology – your smartphone, specifically – to scale back. Scaling back could cut down on your own energy bill, but scaling back at peak times can also cut down on what your utility company pays.

That's where D.R.I.V.E. comes in.

The D.R.I.V.E. System was developed by Hawaiian startup Ikehu Natural, LLC. “Ikehu” is Hawaiian for “energy,” and the company is committed to innovative energy efficiency.

The D.R.I.V.E. System, which stands for “Demand Response Incentive System,” is designed to reward users for using energy more efficiently and saving the utility companies money.

The idea was developed after the Department of Energy began the Green Button initiative in cooperation with major utilities, allowing consumers to access their energy usage data.

D.R.I.V.E. takes this data and processes it in a cloud server. Utilities can then send out incentives to customers that have downloaded the D.R.I.V.E. app, received in the form of text messages, that give the consumer the opportunity to earn points or airline miles.

Incentives can be as small as reducing power consumption for the next twenty minutes by turning down the heat or turning off the oven. More points are awarded if the consumer accepts the incentive, but some points will even be awarded to consumers that decline.

In July, the company won the U.S. Department of Energy Award for Technology Designed to Reduce Energy Consumption. The award included $6,000 in prize money and an invitation to display the app at the Energy Datapalooza event in Washington, D.C. in October.

From the press release:

“It's an honor to be selected among the winners in such a prestigious competition” says Holland Wood, Ikehu's CEO and founder. “Soon, utilities will have the ability to use airline miles to guide consumers towards responsible energy use.”

It was also selected as a Top50 startup for the 2012 Startup Open, a recognized list of the most promising startups for the year. It was in the running for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March.

A patent is pending for the D.R.I.V.E. System technology, and the program is still in a Beta testing phase. If you're interested in trying out the Beta testing when it becomes available in your area, you can sign up here.

The company is designed around rewarded consumers for practicing greener habits. And it's habits like these that can promote large-scale energy efficiency.

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